West Ham United put defeat at Tottenham Hotspur behind them by earning a creditable 1-1 Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One draw against Stoke City at Little Heath on Saturday.
Stoke went ahead early on when Kieran Monlouis diverted Kris Scott's shot low into the Hammers net, but Nathan Mavila volleyed the Hammers level with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock.
Mavila's late intervention ensured a share of the spoils and ended a run of three straight league defeats for the Hammers, who began Saturday's match with just three second-year scholars in their starting XI - goalkeeper Sam Baxter and midfielders Taylor Miles and Kieran Sadlier.
The match started with a West Ham chance on goal. A long punt forward from Baxter caught the whole Stoke team out, with Nana Boakye-Yiadom collecting the ball through on goal, and he drew an impressive low save from Dale Eve.
Despite the Hammers' strong start, it was Stoke who pushed forward and grabbed the opening goal of the game. The majority of the visitors' attacking moves came down the right wing, where they opened up the angle to spot Scott unmarked in the middle. He sliced his effort into the path of Monlouis, who was free to roll the ball past Baxter and into the net.
The goal shocked the young Hammers, as they had been punished from a single lapse in concentration during the first half.
As half-time approached, West Ham had two close efforts on goal that bought impressive saves out of Stoke captain Eve in goal.
Firstly, Boakye-Yiadom was bought down 20 yards from goal, allowing Lewis Page to bend a left-footed free-kick towards the top left-hand corner, but Eve was there to foil the left-back by pushing the ball around the post.
Then, from the resulting corner, Kieran Sadlier picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area. He fired a shot towards the top right-hand corner, but again Eve stood up to keep his side ahead.
The hosts needed to push on after half-time to avoid a fourth consecutive loss, with manager Steve Potts bringing Ben Marlow and Rob Girdlestone into the match and changing to a more attacking formation.
West Ham continued to search for an equaliser, looking dangerous in attack through Sadlier and Boakye-Yiadom, who both found space in the box, but their efforts were blocked by a the legs of Stoke defenders.
The visitors were not out of the game, though, and tricky midfielder Scott had a chance to double Stoke's lead, but he disappointed himself by blazing his shot wide.
With the game entering its final stages, Stoke's impressive defensive resolve finally broke. The Hammers won a corner which was whipped in by Sadlier and met on the head of a Stoke defender. The clearance fell to the feet of Mavila standing 22 yards from goal, and the summer arrival from Wycombe Wanderers unleashed a powerful low volley through the crowd and into the goal.
The Hammers took confidence from Mavila's goal and started to believe they could snatch all three points late on.
However, it was Stoke who had the best chance to take the win when Charlie Ward broke forward and passed to Scott. The No10 decided against taking a shot and instead created the opportunity yet again for scorer Monlouis, but the Hammers defence reshaped and cleared the danger.
Having ended their run of defeats, Potts' side will have renewed confidence as they begin preparations for their next Barclays U18 Premier League Tier One match at Liverpool on Saturday 16 March
West Ham United U18s: Baxter, Homans, Burke, Onaraise, Page (Girdlestone), Makasi, Miles (Marlow), Freeman (Gogo), Sadlier, Boakye-Yiadom, Mavila